GOVERNMENT REFORM

» Government Ethics and Lobbying Reform

» Money in Politics

» Open Government

» Stealth PACs

» Public Protections


Stealth PACs Resources

Sign Up

To receive regular updates on our campaigns for government accountability. 

Recent Reports

June 24, 2014 - A Rising Tide
Jan. 14, 2014 - Part 2: Beware of a Naive Perspective
Jan. 7, 2014 - Part 1: Beware of a Naive Perspective
June 12, 2013 - The Perils of OIRA Regulatory Review
More - See More Government Reform Reports

Stealth PACs

Methodology:

This project chronicles election spending by – and contributions to – organizations using large campaign contributions from corporations, unions and wealthy individuals to influence the 2010 elections.

Groups that are not party committees or candidate campaign committees must report election spending to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) as either “independent expenditures” or “electioneering communications.” Independent expenditures are defined as expenditures explicitly intended to influence the outcome of a federal election. These expenses, often for advertisements, are known as “express advocacy” because they expressly urge a vote for or against a candidate. Electioneering communications, known informally as “issue ads,” are messages broadcast within 60 days of a general election or 30 days of a primary that mention a candidate for federal office but stop short of advocating a vote for or against the candidate.

Some organizations also report the funders of their election ads. The 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA), commonly known as McCain-Feingold, flatly requires disclosure of the funders for both independent expenditures and electioneering communications. But in late 2007, the FEC created a gaping loophole in that requirement in response to a Supreme Court ruling that freed corporations to begin airing “issue ads” near elections. We reported on the erosion of disclosure in September.

About the Data in This Project

  • For expenditures on candidates who were involved in both a primary and a general election this year, we inferred from the date of the expenditure the contest to which it applied.

  • Many disclosure reports provide a single dollar amount for multiple candidates, without providing a breakdown by candidate. In those cases, we divided the total amount spent by the number of candidates mentioned in the report. We do not have a means of determining the correct proportion of spending that went to each candidate.

  • Groups that have received $5,000 or less from each of their funders are omitted. This cutoff provides a good approximation of the groups that are taking advantage of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC to spend unlimited money – whether individual, union, or corporate – on election advocacy. Some groups that have accepted only $5,000 from each source might have received some of that money from corporations or unions. We intend to research that question and, time permitting, we will add those groups to the database.

Copyright © 2014 Public Citizen. Some rights reserved. Non-commercial use of text and images in which Public Citizen holds the copyright is permitted, with attribution, under the terms and conditions of a Creative Commons License. This Web site is shared by Public Citizen Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation. Learn More about the distinction between these two components of Public Citizen.


Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation

 

Together, two separate corporate entities called Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation, Inc., form Public Citizen. Both entities are part of the same overall organization, and this Web site refers to the two organizations collectively as Public Citizen.

Although the work of the two components overlaps, some activities are done by one component and not the other. The primary distinction is with respect to lobbying activity. Public Citizen, Inc., an IRS § 501(c)(4) entity, lobbies Congress to advance Public Citizen’s mission of protecting public health and safety, advancing government transparency, and urging corporate accountability. Public Citizen Foundation, however, is an IRS § 501(c)(3) organization. Accordingly, its ability to engage in lobbying is limited by federal law, but it may receive donations that are tax-deductible by the contributor. Public Citizen Inc. does most of the lobbying activity discussed on the Public Citizen Web site. Public Citizen Foundation performs most of the litigation and education activities discussed on the Web site.

You may make a contribution to Public Citizen, Inc., Public Citizen Foundation, or both. Contributions to both organizations are used to support our public interest work. However, each Public Citizen component will use only the funds contributed directly to it to carry out the activities it conducts as part of Public Citizen’s mission. Only gifts to the Foundation are tax-deductible. Individuals who want to join Public Citizen should make a contribution to Public Citizen, Inc., which will not be tax deductible.

 

To become a member of Public Citizen, click here.
To become a member and make an additional tax-deductible donation to Public Citizen Foundation, click here.